What you need to know:
- Alcohol, tobacco and bhang are the most abused substances among young people.
- Smoking has been normalised as smokers blatantly shun designated smoking zones to smoke publicly.
Health has become a major issue that is affecting the youth adversely. The pain points are mainly drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the exponential spread of HIV/Aids.
Alcohol, tobacco and bhang are the most abused substances among them. Smoking has been normalised as smokers blatantly shun designated smoking zones to smoke publicly, not minding the health of the others.
Gone are the days when one could be arrested for smoking in public. Bhang is becoming normal, abused almost everywhere, what with the police being compromised by peddlers. In many places, youth spend their time idling in groups with alcohol and bhang use common.
The effects of drug use push youth to commit crimes such as violence and rape while risking HIV/Aids and other STDs through non-consented and unprotected sex. Drug abuse among them spurs teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Mental health, too, is increasingly becoming common. Depression, anxiety and even eating disorders are the leading mental problems.
Drug and substance abuse
Failure to adequately address the reproductive health subject among the youth is also another challenge. The government should allocate sufficient resources for reproductive health programmes that target outcomes such as reducing the prevalence of HIV and other STDs and curbing drug and substance abuse with stern action against those flouting the guidelines.
The government should inculcate rigorous life skills training in schools outlining deeper substance abuse prevention programmes. In its Budget, it should not leave the youth behind but adopt strategies to encourage them to utilise recreation facilities and access economic empowerment. Also have strategies to control drug and substance abuse, such as taxation policies.
The healthcare system should also be geared towards development of more youth-friendly centres to encourage the youth to seek help regarding sexual, reproductive and mental health.
Mr Tinega is an intern at the Centre for the Study of Adolescence. [email protected]